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Knights prepare for Shakespeare in the park

By Roger Moroney

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A jousting knight from the Order of the Boar.
A jousting knight from the Order of the Boar.

Dashing knights in armour bearing fragile lances, easily broken so as not to cause serious affray, will be a feature of some spectacular medieval horseplay at this year's Shakespeare in the Park event set to be staged at the Church Rd Winery grounds on March 8 and 9.

They will be the fine jousting gentlemen from the Order of the Boar - a Wellington-based medieval jousting group which has performed around the country raising the profile of the art of jousting.

Jousters ride towards their opponent bearing a long lance, and aiming to strike before they are struck back.

"We have been very lucky to secure knights and their horses for what will be a great event," said Graham Duncan from Taradale Rotary, which in association with Greenmeadows Rotary is set to stage the event for the second year.

A spokesman for the order said the object was to break the lance (the tips are specially designed to shatter) on the shield or the torso of the opponent without striking too hard and causing the opponent to fall, although that happened during highly competitive events.

Mr Duncan said he had seen jousting competitions and was confident they would create plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" among what he and his organising crew believe will be a sell-out event.

"It will really complement the [medieval] village we are going to create."

The jousting strip will be set up in front of the seated embankment area at the Church Rd Winery grounds, over a 140m by 30m field.

Along with the knights in armour there would be all manner of medieval market stalls from cobblers and candlemakers, to spinners and weavers, maypole dancing, a blacksmith, apple bobbing, music and, of course, Shakespeare - with a comic twist.

The show, staged on the steps of the Tom McDonald Cellar entranceway, will be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare as written by the Reduced Shakespeare Company and described as "an hilarious laugh-a-minute production".

The audience will again be housed in "The Globe" area, with the unique village spread out around the edges of the winery grounds for those attending to wander and wonder at before and after the stage production.

Last year's inaugural event on the winery grounds drew a sold-out crowd - many of whom entered into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in medieval costumes.

Mr Duncan said he had heard that costume hire specialists had already started gearing up to provide appropriate garb from the Elizabethan era.

Tickets were being limited to 1200 on the Saturday and the Sunday and were being sold through Ticket Direct agencies, or on-line, at $38.50 for adults and $18.50 for 18 and under.

"It's going to be a step back in time of colour, music and pageantry," Mr Duncan said.

The event will be a fundraiser for local community groups, including the Hawke's Bay Child Cancer Support Foundation.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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